As the faces and motives of the Lee Education and Economic Development Political Action Committee (LEED-PAC) are becoming known, it is apparent thy feel maintaining the traditional status quo in Lee County is of paramount importance. Let’s face it, things have always been done a certain way around here, and a select group of citizens- mostly lifelong residents with a sense of entitlement -have prospered with financial benefits of those ‘ways’. LEED-PAC is nothing new. There are always groups or individuals who ‘call the shots’ or ‘pull the strings’ behind the politicians who make the rules for others to live by. Lee County is no exception. It should be of no surprise to any thinking and concerned citizen that those forces are at work now.
Usually the first indicator that the proverbial ‘apple cart’ is being unsettled is the claim, ‘well he ain’t from around here!’ That is a claim levied routinely about Commissioner Jim Womack, who chose to live in Lee County when he retired from the Army. He has been vilified because he questions the status quo. The second charge levied against Jim Womack is that ‘he just doesn’t know how things are done around here!’ Maybe it’s time to check out the apple cart, the ways have been done around here. Commissioner Womack isn’t the first to question the questionable.
For the 100 plus years of its existence, there has always been some few who seem always to benefit by the way business is conducted in Lee County. Let there be no doubt that Moore and Chatham counties didn’t one day up and offer to cede lands to become a new county without someone benefiting. Every bit of ‘progress’, every act of ‘development’ benefited someone. In most cases, there was an indirect benefit derived by the rest of the citizenry in the form of taxes or community services, but those are always of an indirect nature. Some things are obvious: the presence of the community college, the widened roads in and out of the county (and don’t forget the bypass) and the airport are all examples. None of these things were coincidence. Someone benefited from each of them in terms of land sold or construction contracts garnered, or even political credit taken. Sure, often there was some sort of public benefit, but don’t think for a minute that that was the primary motive of the people who pushed to make them happen.
There’s a downside too. Progress by these same groups has led to a rundown downtown and blighted neighborhoods throughout East Sanford, which gets constant comment about renovation and renewal. Many of the owners of the center of town, both past and present, have been lead factors in developing along the Horner Blvd corridor and in the Tramway area. There are many empty and woefully underused buildings downtown. Yet there is constant growth out along the byways, why? Take a short drive along Horner Blvd., down Route 1, or over to Spring Lane, and take notice of the number of empty store fronts, but there are even more being built, why is that? It isn’t because someone isn’t benefiting, otherwise that zoning, planning, and building permits would never have been issued. Schools have been built, discarded, and modified over the decades, often with no clear plan, other than to build. There are virtually discarded neighborhoods throughout the City of Sanford, yet there is constant building of new developments on the fringes of the city waiting to be annexed, why is that? Someone benefited by it.
The LEED-PAC has to attack Commissioner Womack and others like him, because he has had the nerve to question the ‘old’ way of doing things. His questioning has made him a bit of a pariah, an untouchable. But take a minute to see who people of the LEED-PAC really are and who has put up the money for its newspaper blitz against Commissioner Womack and his so-called militia, and the answers to the earlier questions of why things are answered by the same who’s that benefited from those actions. Few things in this world happen without a distinct causative effect. The LEED-PAC exists to maintain the status quo in Lee County. They support politicians and policies aimed at maintaining the apple cart a certain way so that they are the direct beneficiaries of the apples in the cart. LEED-PAC does truly exist for the people of Lee County, but only a select few. Soon, we will know them all by name.